'The boys were silent in their contemplative appreciation. A real live bomb. In their garden.
Well…it looked real at least.
Korr quickly caught Zephs’s arm interrupting its ascension towards the red glowing light at its centre.
“Are you insane Zephs’?, you should know better than touching a throbbing, glowing device which is clearly not from this world. Have you not learned anything from your classes?”
“This is a 30th century Earth relic by the looks of it, and don’t question my knowledge please, you know I’d beat you at any Earth Primitive History tests”.
Happy with his retort, Zephs withdrew his arm and looked at his brother asking more to himself than to Korr,
“The real question is how did it get here and a live one at that?”
They knew that the presence of this live weapon was impossible. The campaign to annex all planets in the Earth’s galaxy had taken care of that long ago. Earth had disappeared when it was time for the universe realignment to be finalised.
A mistake, according to Korr. Avid student of History of The Covenant Wars, he could see that the decision was short-sighted, but the leaders of the Council had considered that Earth rendered a dead planet was a literal waste of space and did not qualify for terraforming.
Earth people had expanded their knowledge of the universe and were known to be undisputed experts in the space mapping and time travel fields, and for that knowledge they had been spared but scattered in all corners of the universe for fear that one day they would rise against the Council.
Their sentence had been harsh. Some think it had been tampered with to benefit the Lunar colony.
As they had watched helplessly the blue and green of their planet disappear into nothingness, Lothar leader and wisest amongst all Earth men spoke his last words before one of the guard’s spear sent him to his death, but not before he promised revenge on the Council. He spoke: “Through space and time, you will run! As our fury, will be your end! Words still present in today’s younglings’ history books and have been for centuries."
Zephs snapped back to reality showing a fear in his eyes that froze Korr on the spot, a sight he’d never expected to see in his brother. And when the “click” resounded in the air silencing every other sound around them, they knew for certain that Earth people had returned.
“Zephs…run!” were the only words Korr had time for before the bomb went off.
A coughing fit dragged Korr back into consciousness. His eyes stung, he was sure they were opened, but he could only see darkness. His head was throbbing and the sound of a heavy chain cut short the involuntary move of his right leg. As he made sense of his surroundings he quickly became aware of the walls of his cell and although he did not know who made him prisoner one thing he was certain of, the blast should have killed them both.
“Zephs! Where is Zephs?” he shouted in the dark. “Where is my brother? Whoever you are, you will never get away with this!”, he screamed at the top of his lungs, “Do you hear me?!”
With those last words left suspended in the air, Korr let out a harrowing scream. The anger and the pain contained within it, were unmistakable, but so was the sound of the key unlocking his cell.
“Korr! First son of Kesh, you will stand, or I will make you!”
As his vision captured the light entering his cell, Korr reluctantly stood up, and the approaching shadow took the shape of a familiar man that he could not quite place. And it hit him!
“You are Lothar. But how?!. You should have died long ago.”
“I did,' said Lothar as he approached Korr to face him”. “Guilty of no crime, but executed without trial at the hands of your people.”
Looking straight into Lothar’s eyes, it was as if Korr could reach in the past and see it all. The day that should never have been: Lothar’s last words before the spear took him.
Breaking eye contact with his jailor, Korr asked again about his brother and why they had been brought here.
“You are braver than most, standing up to your captor, I’ll give you that.” “But it’s our knowledge and not our home that The Council should have taken.”
“Earth will be made whole again, Son of Kesh.”
And as he walked away to exit the cell, Lothar looked at Korr once more and said: “There is more than one way to realign a universe.”
The light in the cell left with Lothar the same way it came and the sound of the locking key followed.
Alone in the dark again, a sense of dread filled Korr.
All night the Three could hear the creak of windmill sails and the regular plop of water. Their rest was fitful, and they wished they hadn’t had to venture as far back as Koudekerke with its list of drowned holy men and unremitting diet of fish. However, there was something to do. There was always something to do.
The Direktor had sent one of his (or her?) team to communicate with the Three, and after the communication (all gold ink blots) the Three had joined together in the most marvellous and disgusting way to make a unique time corridor. The capsule was sucked into the corridor like a snail pulling its foot after it, and in spite of all the slime they had not taken longer than a month to travel back several centuries.
Armanda complained throughout the whole journey of boredom, but underneath, they all knew, was terrified of water.
A devastating flood was scheduled to cover the village of Koudekerke with seawater. It happened so often here that it seemed madness to do what people kept doing, and claiming little bits of the sea bed, in houses raised on flimsy sticks or wash-away mounds. The pressure to expand seemed inexorable, and they knew no other way even though it was extremely dangerous. Most people would die, but there was one person in the village – an ancestor – who wasn’t supposed to be here and had to be saved and returned to the dam at Amstel. There, he would eventually marry. His luckless bride would die in childbirth, and he himself of dysentery, but the child would pull through on a thread.
The Kapsule was waterproof, if not soundproof, and could function as an inefficient boat, or even a submarine. It could also turn into a car of sorts and Meldrum anticipated making the journey to River Amstel in super-quick time before the conjugation and home-coming. The Three were hesitant to leave the Kapsule and had stayed inside as long as possible.
Flood-day morning had dawned with a stunningly beautiful sky. Meldrum described the extraction, and planned journey to Amstel.
“We’re not invisible you know,” said Armanda sulkily. She knew the two males had cottoned on to her fear of water.
“What do you propose?” he asked, “We can’t even borrow a wagon in this – ,” he paused. Long ago they’d made a pact to stop slagging off the places they ended up in. “ – marsh,” he finished.
It was true, there were no roads, no oxen to pull a wagon. No livestock, no wood, no stone. Just the rich soil, the green paths and the sound of the pumps.
“Will we know him?” asked Everdale, ever-practical Everdale.
“We’ll be able to spot him easily for sure,” said Armanda. “The village has a max of 30 people, and two thirds of those are women and children. The ancestor we’re looking for has the same face as – ,” she indicated Meldrum with a sideways jerk of her head.
“An important one then,” smirked Everdale.
The ancestor was indeed important, making up a tiny fraction of the Meldrum genotype.
The Three dressed in costumes sent with them, although Armanda complained that she could hardly see around the pointy white cap she had to wear. They’d let her do the talking, imbibed as she was in language. Before leaving the capsule, she took another strong draught.
“It’s basically German,” she said, “but so ancient, I want to make sure.”
She was the only one who could drink the draught and still be able to make the constellation for home-coming. If either of the males drank it, they’d be stuck here for a month waiting for the effects to wear off. Meldrum and Everdale each had a flask of language in their backpacks, but it would only be used if there was absolutely no alternative.
The Three looked cautiously out of the capsule pop-out and then descended to stand on the oozing ground. There was no one else there, only the crude windmills turning in the low, ceaseless sea breeze.
“We’re too clean,” said Armanda, and they took handfuls of the rich alluvial soil and smeared it over clothes and faces. Then the two males straggled in line behind Armanda, and the Three set off along the green lane that led to the village.
I was lying awake, because as usual it was too hot in the Kapsule. Meldrum and Everdale had out-voted me on the heating and it was at least 2O above the temperature required for comfortable sleep. Also, I could hear their snuffles and light snores telling me they were getting their 8-hours refreshment when I wasn’t. I did my best to wake them with tossing and turning in my bunk and making little moans and groans. I then made some less-little moans but they still didn’t wake up. I could be raped and murdered under their noses and they’d sleep blissfully through it.
Besides the annoying snores there were watery noises from the creaking windmills. The creaking was more or less regular, due to the interminable wind, but the plops were infrequent and varied in tone as more or less water gathered in the pump. Every time I thought I was dropping off a rich musical plop brought me back to alertness. Everdale had suggested shutting the grill when I mentioned these sounds, but if I shut the grill there would be even less air.
I clamped down on my extreme unease at being below sea-level with the sea Just There, over the dyke wall. I shivered and not with cold, this really was a God-forsaken place.
I wondered what on Earth drove the ancestors out here, building houses on flimsy sticks, producing children at enormous cost only to have them swept out to sea or even just drowned by accident in one of many ponds and pools. They seemed careless with their very lives, bent on spending them furiously, as if life was a wave that only progressed if numbers were thrown at it. It was different where I came from, where each being was shielded like a flame from one of their candles.
When morning broke, I had not really slept at all. My fear was intense because I knew it was flood day and every nerve in my body screamed to get away. We should’ve at least parked some distance from the dam, but no, “we mustn’t be seen”, “we must remain hidden” and “this part of the dam had been neglected for a while so no-one’s likely to come here”. Yes, Meldrum, I thought, that’s why this is where the flood starts. He was willing to endanger us all because it was one of his gene-line that we were pulling out. He hoped to feel the enhancement of his powers after this mission, although it was so far back in time, I couldn’t imagine it making much difference.
Anyway, I had to put on the stupid cumbersome costume. I raged with impatience at the women of the past; no wonder they kept getting drowned or murdered, I could hardly see around my huge white bonnet. Anyone could’ve crept up on me.
I drank extra draught for language, as we’d come so far back, and I wanted to be absolutely competent. The two men couldn’t drink it without it affecting their performance during conjugation, whereas it enhanced mine making me slightly quicker to arousal. However, I made sure they had a flask each in their backpack, as being trapped here for a while was better than being killed by xenophobes. I turned a full circle to look between bonnet-flaps at us - in our true-to-time costumes that looked as if they’d just come out of the laundry. Meldrum should have seen and controlled for this. Why couldn’t he just do his job?
“We’re too clean.” I said and scrubbed some soil into my voluminous skirt. Then, aware that flood-time was in about 2 hours, I wheeled and set off briskly down one of the green lanes, not caring if they were following me or not, although, by the steady tramping footsteps, I knew they were.
I had the beginnings of a headache from terror and lack of sleep, and we’d only just started.
All night the Three could hear the creak of windmill sails and the regular plop of water. Their rest was fitful, and Everdale wished they hadn’t had to venture as far back as Koudekerke He hated the smell of fish at the best of times, and the dreary focus on death and drowning bored him. However, there was something to do. There was always something to do.
The Direktor had sent one of their team to communicate with the Three, and after the usual ornate and over-complicated communication they had joined together to make the time corridor. Everdale shivered as he remembered the joining – the noise of pleasure Armanda made at the beginning; the way Meldrum shuddered involuntarily at the end…
This Three was a relatively new combination, only ten years together, and he was still getting used to the way the Constellation took them all, powerful and tender at the same time.
Surprisingly the capsule had taken just under a month to wend its slimy way around the coils and undulations of the corridor, travelling back the required centuries. He had tried to understand the convolutions and theories of the Corridor, and how it linked to the Constellation, but it had all blurred over the years, and he now took it all for granted. He knew Meldrum would explain it all in tedious detail if he asked, He didn’t ask.
Despite its relative brevity, Armanda had complained throughout the journey. Everdale knew her extravagant sighs of boredom and displays of lethargy hid a deeply hidden terror. She was afraid of water, and they were heading to a devastating flood.
Everdale preferred to be prepared and fully briefed on the mission, and so had read several first-hand accounts of the floods at Kouderkerke. Although he knew all the material facts he could not understand what drove the people to keep on with their awful little lives, clawing back their sodden plots of land, building sand castle houses that were always going to be washed away.
He could see logically that the pressure to expand must have inexorable, and the people of this era seemed to know no other way. It still annoyed him, their endless, futile struggle to stay alive…
This particular flood would kill most of them, and Everdale was struggling to find the empathy to care. He knew Armanda would disapprove, he could picture the pinched look she would give him, so he tried to find the right emotional register. It was always the hardest part for him. He knew he needed to work harder on his emotional repertoire, or he might give himself away
According to Meldrum, there was one person in the village – an ancestor – who wasn’t supposed to be here and had to be saved and returned to the dam at Amstel. There, the wretch would take a wife, impregnate her with a brat, watch her die in childbirth, and then die himself of some terrible disease. The brat would somehow survive and was apparently important. Meldrum had been very clear.
The Kapsule was waterproof, if not soundproof, and could function as an inefficient boat, or even a submarine. It could also turn into a car of sorts.
Everdale watched Meldrum as he mapped out the journey to Amstel over and over again, fine tuning for every possible variable. He could see the tendons in the older man’s fingers flex as he punched the keys of the DataScreen, and felt his own fingers tighten in a sudden physical memory.
Flood-day morning dawned with a stunningly beautiful sky. Meldrum described the extraction, and his meticulously planned journey to Amstel.
“We’re not invisible you know,” said Armanda sulkily. Everdale smiled at her petulant tone and busied himself with his unfamiliar period robes – the hessian itched, and he grimaced as he tightened the rope belt. He knew she was postponing the opening of the Kapsule door and the unavoidable exposure the water.
“What do you propose?” Meldrum snapped, “We can’t even borrow a wagon in this –,” he paused. Everdale watched as he fought back the urge to use a familiar slur. They were all trying to get better at staying positive about mission locations.
It was true, the mission data file videos projections had been very high resolution. There was no infrastructure, no communication routes across the sodden land. Just dark earth and narrow grassy lanes winding across them, like green veins.
Everdale sometimes longed for his home, his real home. The clean, sharp lines of metal, the acid tang of fuel in the air. He distracted himself by asking the question he had wanted to ask for an hour now.
“Will we know him?”
He hated the sometimes-random way they were expected to carry out their missions. He liked it when things were cut and dried, no room for ambiguity.
“We’ll be able to spot him easily for sure,” said Armanda. “The village has a max of 30 people, and two thirds of those are women and children. The ancestor we’re looking for has the same face as –,” she indicated Meldrum with a sideways jerk of her head.
Ahhh. The Ancestor was from Meldrum’s Line. That explained the unusual attention to detail. Meldrum was often sloppy in his calculations and planning.
“An important one then,” he smirked. Meldrum scowled, but explained that the ancestor was indeed important, making up a tiny fraction of the Meldrum genotype.
Meldrum shared the ancestry datafile with them then, and the gene-links were clear. This one had to be saved.
Armanda and Meldrum were all now also dressed in the period costumes sent with them. Armanda complained that she could hardly see around the pointy white cap she had to wear. They’d let her do the talking, imbibed as she was in language. Before leaving the capsule, she took another strong draught.
“It’s basically German,” she said, wiping the sticky liquid from her mouth.
“But it’s so ancient, I want to make sure.”
She caught Meldrum’s disapproving look as she tipped the draught vessel and swallowed deeply a second time.
“Careful Armanda” Meldrum muttered.
“I don’t need your advice on imbibing thank you very much” she snarled.
“Unless you want to demonstrate your special draught skills. If I remember the last time you two males imbibed, we were trapped for three weeks while you both recovered.”
Everdale flinched, and he and Meldrum exchanged embarrassed looks. That had been a disastrous mission. They had been unable to make constellation and homecoming had been severely delayed.
Everdale felt for the emergency language draught he had stashed in his hidden pack under the wretched robe. After that last experience both men had vowed to find another way the next time Armanda was unable to drink.
Everdale followed Armanda and Meldrum out of the Kapsule and climbed carefully down the ladder of the pop-out to stand on the oozing ground next to his companions, already in mission mode.
Standing together in a line, arms touching, arguments forgotten, they looked out over the flat featureless land. There was no one else there, only the crude windmills turning in the salt sea breeze.
“We’re too clean,” said Armanda, taking handfuls of the dark earth and rubbing it over her dress, along her arms, into her hair. Everdale watched her, and tried not to think of her in the heat of the constellation, sighing in the tangle of arms and legs as they all felt the corridor begin to form. He risked a glance at Meldrum, but he was looking away, bending to pick up some earth and follow Armanda’s advice.
She strode off, and Meldrum followed her, struggling a little to keep up. Everdale watched them for a moment, admiring the way Armada had conquered her fear, impressed by Meldrum’s steady gait over the soft ground. He absently pressed dirt into his hands and over his face, trying to ignore the rich botanical smell, the awful organic feel of the stuff.
They were Three, he had to keep up appearances, and there was a job to do. He followed them, jogging to catch up, down one of the green lanes to the village.
“We’re finished in Amstel,” said Meldrum, feeling exhaustion creeping over him like a fog.
They had sedated the errant ancestor and brought him back to his proper location in double-quick time and he was at this moment lying on a damp straw pallet in a local inn, bewildered but too weak to move. His wife-to-be would discover him in the upstairs room tonight.
The journey to Amstel had been difficult, taking four miserable days. The ancestor absolutely reeked and being unconscious had had no control over bladder and bowels. The Kapsule was crowded and they had taken it in turns to mop up and left him mostly naked after the first day so that his body could be hosed down in their little shower. As soon as they reached Amstel, they had forced his floppy limbs into sweat-stiff clothes and got rid of him at last.
However, the sickening stench lingered. Of course Armanda was all for UV-sterilisation in case of parasites
“No,” said Meldrum shortly. This would delay them even further and he wanted to go home. He had urgent business to attend to, and he was hoping that their next mission could be delayed. “We make the constellation,” he said.
Armanda was reluctant, although she tried to hide it as usual. Her reluctance was inflammatory, and it was always disturbing to lose control like that.
The constellation quickly became powerful, sucking the Kapsule into the time-corridor twice as quickly as on the outward journey. Once the journey was underway, they separated into the furthest corners of the Kapsule, although still close enough to hear each other’s breathing.
Meldrum tried to block it out with mindful work but he could still sense the two of them.
Armanda amused herself by watching comedy on a tiny screen. Her laughter was even more attractive than her reluctance and despite himself Meldrum found himself focussing on her but further joining was dangerous – it could spin them off into the unknown. Everdale seemed to be immersed in a political affairs and history screencast. Meldrum sat quietly and watched Armanda from the shadows.
Occasionally she would become rock-still and listen for messages on the time-string. A new mission instruction might sometimes be sent like this, which meant they could prepare and study on the journey home and go out again immediately. This would not suit his needs and he hoped nothing would be sent. Only Armanda could hear and translate the time-string which was to do with the concentration of draught in her body. She had tried to explain it - like music she’d said, but deep in her head. The explanation made no sense to either of them, but they didn’t need it to understand. They trusted her to hear the time-string correctly, and to direct their efforts. The power balance between them was delicate. Meldrum was Commander but Armanda was crucial, and all directions came from her. He had learned just to obey when she gave the order.
“I hear something,” she said, and the two men froze, straining as if they too might hear.
“It’s so strange,” she said, her eyes flickering in the dimmed light. “We’ve not been there before.”
Meldrum barely concealed his sudden rush of impatience. He wasn’t excited about their destination – a new mission just meant his business would be further delayed.
“When is it?” asked Everdale.
“Not when but where,” she replied, her eyes closed, no doubt deeply focussed on the inner music
“Where? In our own time then?” said Meldrum.
“Yes,” she answered, her voice faint. He leaned forward to catch her whisper.
“Space,” she said. “Io.”
“Io? The 4th Gallilean moon of Jupiter? That’s where…” Everdale tailed off, his voice a whisper.
The atmosphere in the Kapsule seemed to burn, like the burning lava of Io in its restless planetary tides.
In the beginning Everdale was an astronaut. He was Commander of a small vessel, that trawled the solar system looking for private jobs and there was plenty of work. He had a small crew of 8 and he’d been intimate with all of them - the men and the women - in the modern way. Congress was not seen as special or reserved for lovers but a method for solidifying bonds of liking and trust. However, there had been one person, his Understudy, that he became close to, preferring them above all others. Maybe that’s why he made the mistake.
“I can’t go back to Io,” he said, shock and trembling coming out in his voice. The other two regarded him steadily. They knew what had happened in the space-time above Io. However, they were the Three, and three were needed to get in, and three were needed to get out. Armanda reached over and touched his arm, although normally they never touched each other unless they had to.
“You can stay in the Kapsule,” she offered. He grimaced, being all alone with his memories might be even worse.
“What’s the mission?” asked Meldrum, impatient with both of them. There was no choice, and there was no point in Everdale protesting or Armanda pretending to comfort him. That touch on the arm was completely unnecessary.
“We go back to Io,’ she said. “Back to a mathematical point in space, one of the North nodes.” Everdale’s look of bewilderment sharpened into horror.
“Whose nodes? Whose?” he rasped.
“…yours,” she said; “Back to your ship before it fell.”
There was a stunned silence from Everdale. Then he spoke.“Who are we pulling out? Tell me.”
Armanda looked at him unhappily: he could not be trusted with this mission, it was absolutely plain. She glanced at Meldrum, willing him to take the lead. Eventually he did.“You remain in the Kapsule,” he told Everdale shortly. Everdale flushed.
“Who?” he demanded again.
There was silence. Then Armanda spoke again.
“A member with strong genealogy…they’ve prepared a Council chair.”
She wondered if Everdale would have a heart attack. His face contorted with rage at the continued thwarting of his wishes. To her surprise she felt a flicker of desire – any emotion would do, it seemed.
“Who?” he ground out “Who, damn you, who?”
The name was meaningful to Everdale. He threw back his head and groaned. Armanda was amazed to see tears sliding from under his lashes. He gripped the arms of his chair as if he was experiencing intense pain.
“Enough histrionics,” said Meldrum, “We make the constellation.”
Armanda didn’t know if Everdale would be able to come forward into the group, but he did, his churning emotions obvious to all. She clung to her tiny arousal, closed her eyes, and forced it to grow.
Smolt sniffed the air, his large bulbous nose held up skywards. There was a kill. Probably a long way off over the plains towards the hills, but the definite odour of newly decomposing flesh was unmistakable to him. He tilted his head to one side a little as if listening. He let out a satisfied grunt.
He loved tending the garden. Carefully turning and tilling the soil, weeding, watering, mulching. The garden was his reason to live, it gave him all the food he needed; it was all he knew. Like all of his kind and there were many just like him, he was busy, loyal, hard working and driven by the need to serve, to breed and then to feed. Their life was very simple, very purposeful, very ordered and very short.
Plant was big, not in size; if Smolt reached up as high as he could he could only reach halfway up to the top where the little pale flowers that became the breadfruit – the only food – that Smolt and his kind ate. But plant was big because he had lots of brothers, root-linked as if perpetually holding hands under the ground. Plant talked to Smolt. Not in sound, or colour or sign but there was a life connection a reciprocal need and the Feeders would stand still, lift their bony heads to the air, sniff and they could sense what needed to be done, what jobs Plant needed completing.
Smolt’s far eyesight was not good, he could see well enough to avoid tripping over the stones or bumping into the other Feeders or treading on the green soft spots. He could not clearly appreciate the visual beauty of the world around him, but he often thought of it. He loved the colours even though to him they were vague and unclear in a misty kind of way. He often stopped, sniffed the air and would gaze at the world about him. At the sky, marvelling at the dark yellow clouds and the pale lilac of the clear skies and the iridescence of the borealis as it swam and swirled around, creating ever moving pools of mauve and orange. The beauty would move him. And the green. Everywhere there was such green. But if his far sight was poor, his near sight was keen. It was one of his jobs to remove the irritants from Plant, little crawling many legged creatures that fussed about living and irritating Plant. He stood at the base of one of the brothers gently rhythmically brushing the lower trunk and stem and branches, caressing and removing and eating the creeping crawling irritants with a trance-like concentration.
Smolt stopped suddenly. His head tilted to one side. And he knew it was time to get food. Not his breadfruit that the Plant brothers produced – always just enough to keep Smolt and his kind fed – but food for the Plant brothers themselves. Without a glance at his family, his fellow Feeders he turned and went. He could not move fast, his stumpy quadruped legs were not designed for grace or speed. He was what he was – a slow, plodding, methodical creature of limited intelligence. His sense of smell led him onwards to the kill.
Smolt was determined and unperturbed by the journey and he loved journeys. Sniffing as he shuffled along, sniffing the green grass, lifting his nose to the metallic pungent air that was home. He could smell Plant – all the brothers, hundreds of them in the Plot that he helped to tend and the Plot was kept well with a tenderness and loyalty that came naturally to them all. He could smell the bigfoot grazers that spent their comparatively long lives grazing in the grass and the vegetation that was everywhere. He could smell the far, far away acrid stench of the volcanic activity in the distant mountains, the ground often shook a little, tremors that meant nothing to him.
It was a long journey for a creature that moved so slowly and that only knew a few hundred days, but time was not important. It had little meaning, here. To the feeders and the irritants it was a concept that they wouldn’t grasp. They knew nothing of days as the world spun between night and day. It was just light following dark, following light. They knew nothing of seasons. They did not live long enough to compare.
He reached the kill, it was a very large grazer, many footed and thick skinned. It was already half dismembered by other Feeders. As he approached the Wingfliers that were feeding on the exposed flesh lazily flew away with beating leathery wings, there was plenty for all and they would be back soon. Smolt got to work, carving away chunks of skin and flesh with the serrated, sharp edge to his spade-like hands. He would only take what he could carry. And he would return as slowly as he had arrived and sniff the wonderful air as he trundled back to Plant. Then he would cut the flesh up further and it would be the mulch that the brothers had called him to collect.
Such was his life. Plant fed him and his kind. And in turn he fed Plant and his Brothers. All the life that he knew, including his own kind, including his own family, would one day in turn become mulch. It was the way.
Plant was aware of everything around.
The cool breeze and the promise of rain in the air; the clouds scudding by, forming yellow shapes against the pastel sky. The abundance of primitive life scuttling around and over. Plant could see; could see whatever Plant wanted to see. Sight was something that could be created, many, many millennia before there had been the ability to differentiate between day and night, light and dark and Plant had evolved, had chosen to evolve, the simple ability to detect light had been improved. And improved more. Until with a myriad of light sensors like the seeds on a giant flower head it had become sight. And Plant had evolved it more. With his Plant brothers and the perfection of precision growing and precision eye-flowering Plant could create vision as good as a powerful telescope. Nor was sound a problem. Microscopic hairs within Plant’s sensing node could detect the faintest sound vibration and Plant had, at times, needed to evolve to protect the Brotherhood. Plant had no voice, had no need to communicate directly with the other animals around. But if Plant had have needed a voice, it could be created. After all, a voice was only a vibration of chords.
Plant could move. As much as was needed. Plant could sway or lean, Plant could grow towards the binary suns as Plant chose. But slowly, gradually, not fast or jerkily, that was not the way here. Everything was ordered, calculated and very, very, slow. Plant was supreme. Plant’s intelligence was as infinite as it had needed to be and the craving for knowledge was boundless. Plant did not forget anything, only ever learned. Plant knew how life had been created, Plant moulded and created the world about, it was Plant’s world.
But Plant also knew that there were other worlds. Plant had seen strange, lonely, so lonely craft and alien creatures. And Plant had thought, had conjectured and deduced and in time had understood. But the loneliness was so alien, so different.
There had been a time long, long eons ago when Plant had perhaps not been aware. But Plant’s memory was many brothers wide. And plant never died. Plant was. Stretched over thousands of miles looked after by the feeders Plant’s mind could wander – wander past mathematical problems, past philosophy, past beauty and out into the stars. One day Plant would want to lift roots, spread fibrous strands of his life out and off the planet. Plant knew his world was not the only one. But to make contact, to see, to experience… that would mean he would have to disturb and break the connection between brothers and Plant did not want a brother to be so lonely. But the thirst for knowledge was strong... and Plant thought a lot.